The Healing Power Of Music

When I was in my early teens, my mother ‘encouraged’ me to do three things – take up an instrument (guitar), learn a language (French), & do gymnastics. I pretty much sucked at all three of them.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about doing some chanting (in Sanskrit) – the thought of which freaked me the hell out. Ok, so what the heck is up with that? Of course – this hits two of the three – languages & music. Pretty obviously this was teenage rebellion at “being forced” to do something – I was thus insisting on being right, & on proving Mum wrong.

In some kind of synchronicity, I’ve also had this song brought to my attention – “Fall At Your Feet” – by Crowded House:

The lyrics of which are:

I’m really close tonight
And I feel like I’m moving inside her
Lying in the dark
And I think that I’m beginning to know her
Let it go
I’ll be there when you call

And whenever I fall at your feet
You let your tears rain down on me
Whenever I touch your slow turning pain

You’re hiding from me now
There’s something in the way that youre talking
Words don’t sound right
But I hear them all moving inside you, go
I’ll be waiting when you call

Hey and whenever I fall at your feet
Won’t you let your tears rain down on me
Whenever I touch your slow turning pain

The finger of blame has turned upon itself
And I’m more than willing to offer myself
Do you want my presence or need my help
Who knows where that might lead
I fall

Whenever I fall at your feet
Would you let your tears rain down on me
Whenever I fall, ever I fall

(courtesy of lyricsfreak)

I start listening to this song this morning, and immediately felt stuff start to lift off me. Singing along with it only amplified the effect. I ended up singing this for the best part of two hours, tears streaming down my face as long buried memories surfaced & layer after layer of rubbish cleared away. As I sang or struggled with certain phrases completely different things would lift off. I also instinctively began by singing in a much higher (ie, adolescent) register – then, as the healing progressed, my voice dropped significantly. My vocal cords hurt – they’d never been used at that pitch before.

Here’s what singing this song lifted off me:

  • “Finger of blame” – that it was time to accept learning
  • “Let it go” – it was ok for Mum to be right
  • I kept forgetting the lyric – which echoed French vocab – & was accompanised by a definite visual of my 13 year old school hall
  • “Want my presence of need my help” – obstinance
  • “Something in the way that you’re talking” – French vocab tests
  • Any time I lost the tune – took me back to 14 year old music & not being able to remember any guitar at all
  • Some obvious residual breakup stuff
  • I was continually starting singing too early – much like business ventures I’ve started that have been a decade (or more) ahead of their time
  • When singing in the higher register, I couldn’t hold “I fall” for the entire length – realising that when I am now is where I am supposed to be
  • I was much more comfortable in a higher register – the belief that things have to be comfortable, familiar, to be safe
  • Still struggling to find the right notes – & the right place in my life
  • The subtle words kept tripping me up – echoing accents/graves, etc in French
  • The 2nd verse got rid of some residual anger at having things hidden from me (despite my fully knowing)
  • “Let it go” – much trickier in the lower register – fear that it was harder to do things this way, easier/safer the old way
  • Was still struggling to remember the most basic words

At this point I started singing the song without listening to the music or reading the lyrics

  • Still can’t get it right – hit my residual perfectionism
  • At the higher register – I was warbling a bit – not as good as I thought I might be
  • Kept saying “you” instead of “her” – afraid to get close
  • Kept screwing up verb tenses – just like French
  • Kept saying “happy” instead of “willing” – I wasn’t happy, & wasn’t willing to be happy
  • “whenever I touch your slow turning pain” – that I was addicted to other’s pain
  • Kept saying “moving” not “turning” – also addicted to helping them with their pain
  • Kept saying “know” not “go” – knowledge being more important to me than action
  • Kept saying “touch” not “fall at your feet” – that I’m desperate for touch, having spent a long time with minimal human closeness
  • Still singing flat – just like music class when I was unable to tell notes apart
  • Timing was all screwed up – just like when I’ve been trading
  • “Whenever I touch” – that my addictive personality – I can’t get high without assistance (via food, chemicals, whatever)
  • I really struggled with “let it go”. hehe.
  • “I fall at your feet” – I kept warbling “your” – because I had a problem with what others have that I don’t
  • Got a complete mental block at “I’m more than willing”, thought it was “more than ready” – realised I wasn’t “more than ready” for anything

Needless to say I drank a TON of water & went through a LOT of tissues through this process.

I’ve seen & used a lot of healing techniques, but this absolutely blew me away in terms of how much it cleared. Amusingly, I’m sure this comes as no surprise to the musicians out there.

Ok, so now let’s dissect the frog (ie, examine in ridiculous detail an otherwise beautiful thing).

Here’s what I like, lyrically, about this track:

  1. The subtle tense changes showing the emotional growth of the relationship – first “I’ll be there” when she calls, then “I’ll be waiting” – you can feel him hanging on more as he gets more involved. In the chorus, first it’s “You let your tears rain down on me”, then “won’t you..” – begging, then finally resignedly pleading “would you..”
  2. The growth of the relationship: from early sex “Think I’m beginning to know her”, the development of behaviour patterns, sympathy from her as he falls at her feet; to her hiding something, pulling away; then, finally, his desperation and pain.
  3. The subtlety of the final line – the implication of aloneness – he falls, but there’s no-one there to pick him up “whenever I fall, ever I fall” – so he stays fallen forever.
  4. The tie in – first he’s moving inside her, then, when she’s pulling away, he can hear the (wrong sounding) words moving inside her – as she’s avoiding subjects, wheedling around the (obvious) truth – since he’s already picked up that there’s something in the way that she’s talking.
  5. The subtle transition from – thinking that he’s knowing her, but telling himself to relax & just enjoy the moment “let it go” – to hearing that she’s lying, “words all moving inside you” & breaking up with her – the imperative “go”.
  6. The transition early on from singing about her, to singing to her.

Oh, & here’s a version I just recorded of myself singing this. It was all done from memory (no lyrics in front of me), and acapella (since I don’t have any instruments here). For comparison, I estimated once that I’ve listened to my all time favourite song, “One” by U2 probably around 1500 times. Last time I checked, I still had no idea what the entire lyrics were. Oh, and this is both the first time I’ve sung in public, the first time I’ve recorded myself, and it was done in one take, with no edits. Fall At Your Feet